We've just returned from a Chanukah party day at my mother's house. It was good and bad. Good in that we got to see my brothers, one sister-in-law and my three nephews, and eat nice food and be together. Bad in that one brother went off into the deep end after a remark I made which pushed a button for him. It wasn't an offensive remark, and I immediately apologised, but he wasn't having any of it, and when I apologised again when he left, he had another go at me. It's left me incredibly tearful - weirdly so - and I'm trying to figure out why.
To understand this I have to give more family background than I have before. My family is not very Jewish for two reasons. The first is that my mother's mother's family came to England over 400 years ago, so they are very very anglicised and so my mother didn't grow up with many of the so-called traditions like many 'jewish' foods (actually often Ashkenazi foods) and didn't keep many cultural customs, although they did keep most of the religious ones like Friday nights, Synagogue, High Holy Days etc.
The second is that my father isn't Jewish, and given the drama my parents had when they wanted to get married, they gave up religion at that point - both of them - and brought us up to be nothing. When I was 7, though, I decided I was Jewish, and after that I would go to my grandmother's for each religious festival, did Jewish religious education at school, etc. So I'm the most practicing member of my family.
Previously my brothers haven't been interested in the Jewish side of our background, and neither of the mothers of my nephews have been Jewish, so it isn't a big part of their families. One brother has just started to get interested, so it was partly his encouragement that led us to have a Chanukah party while he was in London with his family this weekend.
The tension was that today is one of the most important football matches of the season for the team that my brothers, father, cousins etc all support. So the younger brother - who is single after a bad separation from my nephew's mother 2 years ago, and a bad break-up from the woman who looked like she was going to become our sister-in-law a few months ago - was very not thrilled at the idea of having a party today and hence missing the football match. He reached some kind of compromise with my mother that said he would go home to watch the game late in the afternoon, having recorded it so he didn't miss any.
Then at lunch today he started talking about leaving and taking the older brother and the two older nephews with him, at about 1530 - very early if we were going to get to the park, play dreidel, light the candles etc. They were discussing logistics and my sister-in-law and I raised eyebrows at each other and I said, lightheartedly - "Next year can we have a family get-together where there's no football or it can be recorded?" And as mentioned above, younger brother lost it, and had a little diatribe at me about how we could have showed up earlier since he'd been there 2 hours before us (we didn't know he'd got there so early, and were home cooking for the party and wrapping presents this morning, having also done so last night til gone midnight), how he is the only person who ever has to be flexible (also nonsense, he's decided he wants to go and spend Christmas Day and the few days afterwards with the older brother so we won't see him again til sometime in 2009, while we are left to spend Christmas Day with H's parents (without his brother and family as they are off to my other sister-in-laws' family) and Boxing Day with my mum and my mentally handicapped Aunt, which is fine, but much less fun than being with my brothers and their families), no one appreciates him etc.
It was all a bit unpleasant. I immdiately apologised and everyone glossed over it. Sometime during the afternoon the plan changed and older brother and family stayed to have tea, while younger brother went off alone, leaving his son to stay for tea - fine with nephew since he worships his older cousin. On his way out I caught younger brother to say goodbye as we won't see each other again, and I simply said I was sorry for having upset him, and I got another diatribe. This time I interrupted him and said I was just trying to apologise and I didn't want to row about it, just to say sorry, so he stopped, said sarcastically that everything was fine, and stalked off.
I am irrationally upset. Which is a combination of horrible tiredness from working like a dog since September without a break, having had several late nights this week due to combination of work and work socialising and cooking, and being up in the night due to Pob having yet another cold to go along with her constant cough. So tiredness is part of it. Sensitivity to general family tension is another part - I have always tried to be the family peace-maker and taken a lot of responsibility for that. Concern that my brother is clearly having a crappy time and is generally not happy is another. Concern that he's angry at me, which I always hate. And fury at the unfair judgement he's handing out. There are probably additional less savoury emotions underneath.
Anyway, in the grand scheme of holiday dramas it's not bad. But it upset me anyway.
Nuchal scan tomorrow. Think that had anything to do with it?